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London, Feb 2014


London, Feb 2014

Rob Irish

It's late February, and a short overnighter in London with the family was on the cards

That I happen to be reading through The Complete Works of Sherlock Holmes at the time of writing is pure coincidence, not that I chose it specifically for this journey to London, nor in inspiration of the recent (and brilliant) BBC adaption of the series, but it made for a curious scene setting experience whilst on the lengthy train journey down.


The first day saw us on our way to Knightsbridge for the customary wander around Harrods, followed by an end-end of Oxford Street, with no shortage of coffee stops and agitated Big Issue salesmen. "Does anyone wanna bloody buy one? - Anyone even speak English around here?!" one yawped brashly, clearly concerned with his sales quota for the day. With ill-tempered marketing tactics like that however, I feel doubtful that his business improved.

We lunched in Chinatown, where I made a point of trying some Bubble Tea, which I'm aware is a huge trend within the Asian community at the moment (as evidenced by its ubiquity around Chinatown). Depending on the flavour, it's essentially like an iced tea or a milkshake with little black gummy tapioca balls at the bottom of it that you can suck up through a fat straw - The chewy spheres are as good as tasteless, and instead make for a unique and mindful drinking experience, which tastes pretty good, too (although they definitely look weird flying up the straw).
Following that, we spent the rest of the day meandering round a few more shops, before concluding with drinks at various bars around the city on the evening.
Those that know me will be accustomed to me drinking an endless variety of things in bars, but particularly when travelling, I find Stella Artois is often a good standard in an unfamiliar bar. It was this evening that I came upon Stella Artois 'Black', a longer matured variant of their regular pour. It certainly had a subtly more complex flavour, taking something I already like and making it even better; Hope it'll make its way North soon enough...

The second day began by rediscovering an old greasy-spoon haunt of ours near Euston Station for a gourmet fry-up breakfast, before heading out on a whistle stop "let's get through as many landmarks as we can in a couple of hours" sort of tour.

We began with Trafalgar Square

No longer a pigeon paradise since the unfortunate implementation of "Do not feed the pigeons' signs, Trafalgar square was otherwise as teeming with people and street artists as ever.

The human statues were apparently involved in a (very) silent and (very) motionless war between who'd bought the coolest 'floating in mid-air' rig; my vote went the the golden dude for his understated 'casually sitting on an invisible chair' idea, which was modestly executed and didn't look pandering like the 6-foot tall floating Yoda did.

The next leg of the journey took us through the Horse Guard's Parade (pictured above), past various war memorials, Downing Street (Plebgate) and the Houses of Parliament, incurring the need a few obligatory London tourism shots such as the following...

Past the London Eye, we gradually made our way in the direction of Tower Bridge, marvelling at various feats of architecture along the way....

Finally, some underground hopping later and last-minute sushi acquisition for the imminent journey, we found ourselves back at the newly modernised King's Cross station to catch the train back home...